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Why has Sameer Manchanda appointed McKinsey’s Parameswaran as DEN CEO?
MUMBAI: Who will fit into the shoes of SN Sharma as DEN Networks CEO? This has been a question asked by every cable TV executive since Sharma’s sudden exit. Now after three months, founder-promoter Sameer Manchanda has announced his choice: a senior McKinsey & Co partner by the name of Pradeep Parameswaran.
Not many in the broadcast industry would have been familiar with this name. Several executives and cable TV operators called us up at TelevisionPost.com to know about Parameswaran.
However, Parameswaran is not completely an outsider to the industry. He was involved with the digitisation drive after leading multi-system operators (MSOs) mandated McKinsey to help them to put in place a robust billing and collection process in Delhi.
A McKinseyite of 12 years, Parameswaran was leader of the telecom, media and technology (TMT) practice in India. He was leading the Asian operations and technology function for TMT. He had been involved in strategy development, marketing and operational effectiveness in developed and developing markets.
Parameswaran’s areas of expertise include tech-driven business transformation and cost innovation.
All very fine, but will he be able to run the country’s second largest cable TV organisation? Why did Manchanda pick somebody who is not from the sector?
Simply stated, some promoters now feel that cable TV companies need non-traditional executives who can give a B2C shape to the organisation. Post digitisation, a new culture has to run in the veins of the cable TV companies.
For Parameswaran, it is not entirely an alien world. When the leading national MSOs took the services of McKinsey in Delhi, he was involved in suggesting systems for streamlining the billing and collection process. He, thus, got familiarised with cable TV digitisation in the first phase itself.
Outside this initiation, Parameswaran was also involved in the project management of DEN’s broadband business. Lagging behind Hathway Cable & Datacom, Manchanda had consulted McKinsey to guide the company’s broadband project.
“Being outside the industry, Parameswaran will bring in fresh ideas and approach. Like other MSOs, DEN is entering into a new era and need to make the transformation from a B2B to a B2C organisation. He will, however, face many challenges,” said a senior executive who did not want his name to be revealed.
Though baptised, Parameswaran will discover that the cable TV industry in India is a complex web and runs on a different set of business ethics. A lot of that, though, is changing. He will also have to manage joint venture partners and last-mile operators who call themselves as last mile owners (LMOs).
“There will be many ground-level challenges that Parameswaran will face. He just has exposure in Delhi and being from McKinsey, he was seen as a neutral face. Now he will be observed by the LMOs and the JV partners as an insider,” a media analyst said.
Parameswaran will have to focus on as many as 120 subsidiaries, out of which DEN has controlling stakes in 111, while in 34 subsidiaries it has indirect stake. Former DEN CEO Sharma had led the company through consolidation and used to manage these JV partners. With 25 years of experience in the media industry, he had built relationships with the LMOs and the JV partners.
“Digitisation has opened up the industry and made it more transparent. The cable TV industry is changing and has to operate outside relationships,” a senior cable TV executive said.
Parameswaran, thus, has big boots to step in as this is also the time when DEN is looking at not just expanding its cable business but has also made investments in broadband (DEN Boomband) and soccer (Delhi Dynamo). It has entered into a joint venture with Snapdeal.com’s parent company Jasper Infotech for a TV channel based on a marketplace model.
DEN has a large part of its cable network to digitise as they fall in Phases III and IV of DAS (digital addressable system). While it has a digital subscriber base of 6.6 million, its estimated reach is in 13 million homes.
DEN’s geographic footprint spans 13 key states across India including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Kerala, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar. The company has a significant presence in the Hindi-speaking markets.